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Game Preview: Nuggets Hope to End Road Skid With Victory at Phoenix

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

PHOENIX – Back-to-backs are generally thought of as a curse. Two games on successive nights, mainly in two different cities, testing players’ mental and physical toughness.

But sometimes, a quick turnaround is welcome.

The Nuggets count themselves in that category on Saturday, as they head into the second of back-to-back games at the Phoenix Suns. It will swiftly allow them to put an ugly loss at Houston on Friday night in the rearview mirror for good, while focusing on the next task at hand.

“Yeah, maybe, because the guys want to go out there and win the game,” center Nikola Jokic said. “Just because it can take the bad taste out of your mouth.”

This is the third and final meeting between the Suns and the Nuggets, who have split wins in the first two contests, both in Denver. This the Nuggets’ only trip to Phoenix this season as the Suns are one of the teams the Nuggets have just three games against. And perhaps that is too bad, because the Nuggets have had a lot of success in Phoenix recently.

They’ve won three straight games in Phoenix, and have averaged 115.7 points per game in doing so.

That could bode well for a Nuggets team that has yet to win a road game this calendar year. They have lost seven straight games away from the Pepsi Center.

“It’s vital because it’s our next game, first and foremost,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We have done a great job – one of the best teams in the NBA – at home. But I believe we only have seven road wins. And at some point, we’re going to have to find ways to win games.

“We need to learn to win on the road, if we really want to be a team that can make the playoffs and also be a dangerous team in the playoffs.”

Both teams could have new players in uniform. The Nuggets are expected to have newly acquired guard Devin Harris with the team. Whether he suits up and plays remains to be seen. Phoenix will have a new guard as well in Elfrid Payton, who comes to the Suns in a trade with Orlando.

Devin Booker will not play in the game due to injury, which is a break for the Nuggets. It will be his third straight missed contest. All Nuggets except Paul Millsap (wrist), Tyler Lydon (knee) and Mason Plumlee (calf) are available for the game.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter